I began writing this column from my bed a week ago, propped up with pillows, tucked between my flannel polar bear sheets and my duvet, levelled with a weighted blanket, in my cozy flannel jammies. Little balls of used up tissues created a small mountain beside me. Let that image settle for a minute.
No man is an island, they say, but for the week between Christmas and New Years, I assure you, I lived on the island of Kelly, because while they also say misery loves company, an unwell Kelly does not.
In fact, an unwell Kelly does not play well with others.
Why? Because my family was sick too. Our house sounded like an infirmary. The Carpenter moved to the spare room, and with our daughter in her room, the hallway was an amphitheatre for the chorus of our coughing spasms. It was comical how competitive the fits of barking got. Even in sickness, we find ways to laugh around here.
Nothing humbles you faster than your own body, yet this is where the miracles happen too. The trick is to remember that when your fever says otherwise. In the comfort of my bed, I knew how fortunate I was to be where I was. Rest and fluids were all that would help me ride this out. Resistance was futile, but perspective is everything. I have battled bigger illnesses and this too shall pass.
But first, my ego messed with me. I blamed myself for not doing enough to protect myself from this virus. You’d think a global pandemic would have taught me something, but when out in public leading up to the holidays, I didn’t wear a mask. I didn’t wash my hands with the vigilance I did during a pandemic every time I touched a public surface.
If I had a dime for every time someone coughed in my direction, without using their sleeve or hand as a barrier (because they also learned nothing from a global pandemic), I would have paid off my holiday debt by now.
I was miserable to be missing work too. I felt I was letting people down. Turns out they survived just fine without me. Stay on your island until you are well, okay? It’s the right thing to do.
One thing I committed to doing daily during the stretch of “ick” was getting fresh air. Nothing heals you like nature, even if just a short walk with the dog. When you live out of eyesight from civilization, you can take a trail through the forest looking sickly. The forest doesn’t judge.
Once, I convinced the Carpenter to come for a walk with me. Exercise. Fresh air. Quality time (because a week home sick together wasn’t enough fun). He was thrilled to be asked, truly. He couldn’t wait.
Fresh air makes the sinuses run, which is good, if you pack enough tissues. Soon, the ribbon of phlegm that was constantly dripping down the back of my sinus cavity set me coughing. Ever helpful, the Carpenter suggested I perform a construction worker’s snort, by placing my finger on one nostril, pushing down and blowing hard and fast out the other nostril, like crews on a job site. Or, perhaps I could “hock a loogie” and spit it out.
If I ever needed a benchmark for my relationship status, nearly 30 years in, this is it. Hock a loogie. Ummm…
Did I mention the spare room is very nice?